How Does A Criminal Record Affect Employment?
In the UK, there are more than 11 million people that have some kind of criminal record, which may include convictions, cautions, warnings, and reprimands.
Some people may think that having a criminal record automatically rules you out from gaining employment, but this isn’t the case. There are plenty of jobs available for people with criminal records and it is actually illegal for employers to discriminate against you, unless the nature of the crime and severity is relevant to the role.
In this article, we’ll explain how having a criminal record may affect your chances of employment, how the legislation works, and what you can do to improve the likelihood of finding a job.
Do all offences show up on a criminal background check?
A criminal record check in the UK is known as a DBS Check, which stands for Disclosure and Barring Service.
Not all offences will be revealed on a DBS Check. It depends on the level of DBS Check that you get done and whether the conviction is spent or unspent.
A Basic DBS Check reveals only unspent convictions and conditional cautions.
A Standard DBS Check reveals spent and unspent convictions, as well as any warnings, reprimands, and cautions.
An Enhanced DBS Check reveals the same as a Standard DBS Check, plus any other relevant information stored on the police records.
Spent convictions are convictions that do not show up on your criminal record anymore, as a specified amount of time has elapsed since the crime, as set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
The rehabilitation period, which is the time for a crime to become spent, depends on the nature and severity of the crime and the penalty or sentence imposed. Until the conviction reaches this time, it is considered to be ‘unspent’.
If you need to get a DBS Check done as part of a job application and you have any unspent convictions, they will show up on every level of DBS Check, so you should disclose any unspent convictions during the application process. Disclosing unspent convictions to potential employers is a legal requirement if you are asked to do so.
Spent convictions show up on Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks, but not on a Basic DBS Check, unless they are filtered or protected convictions. Filtered convictions are ones that the DBS identity and remove them to help rehabilitate people convicted of minor offences.
Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks are necessary for jobs involving direct work with vulnerable adults or children.
Do you need to disclose spent convictions and cautions?
If there are spent convictions on your criminal record that are unfiltered, then you may need to disclose them. Check the DBS guidance to find out more.
Standard and Enhanced DBS Checks search through the Police National Computer (PNC) to find out details of any convictions and cautions, including reprimands, warnings, and youth cautions.
Basic DBS Checks reveal conditional cautions, but not other types of caution.
The PNC will automatically filter out any convictions and cautions that should be filtered.
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act of 1974 states that employers are not allowed to discriminate against applicants based on them having spent convictions on their record, unless the crime is relevant to the role. Some jobs are allowed to turn down applicants based on spent convictions, which include:
- Roles working with children or vulnerable adults
- Banking or finance senior roles
- Police, judiciary, and other law enforcement roles
- Defence roles – army, navy, air force
- National security workers
- Healthcare, pharmacy, and law workers
- Prison service employees
- Private security staff
Anybody who gets a Standard or Enhanced DBS Check is required to disclose any unprotected or filtered convictions, cautions, warnings, or reprimands. The DBS Certificate will include only the information that your employer is legally allowed to see.
What types of convictions may be held against me?
The more severe crimes will be held against you in most cases, such as violent or sexual offences. Any crime that is deemed relevant to the role in question may restrict your chance of getting employment. For instance, if you have a conviction for theft or fraud, then you may not be eligible for a role that involves handling cash.
Most employers will overlook minor crimes, especially if they were committed a long time ago, for instance, being convicted for shoplifting as a teenager.
The best way to approach DBS Checks if you have a criminal record, is to be completely honest. Don’t try and hide anything from your potential employer and the DBS, as if you are found out, you could be in trouble and you’ll cost the company a lot of money.
Employers are not allowed to discriminate based on spent convictions, so honesty is the best policy.
Apply for a DBS Check online
If you need to get a DBS Check, you can apply online using our fast and reliable service. If you have any questions related to DBS Checks, get in touch today and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.